Dallas Doings

Ron Gruen shares insights into Congregation Beth Torah’s
Ark and Ner Tamid
At its recent meeting, the Beth Torah Men’s Club asked long-time member Ron Gruen to tell about his work in designing and building the synagogue’s Ark and Ner Tamid.
Gruen, who gives his age as “93 and a half,” began leading services for Beth Torah soon after its founding in 1975, and quickly became a member himself. He had been recommended by Shearith Israel, where he sang in the choir, as someone who could help the new, young congregation in Richardson. There he not only conducted services, but started teaching Beth Torah’s members how to do it themselves, shaping the intimate informality that has remained the congregation’s hallmark to this day.
Harking back to his childhood in Czernovitz, Austria-Roumania, Gruen says, “My father always sang. I was raised with holiday melodies. I can’t remember when I didn’t know them.” Still following Gruen’s lead, all recent High Holy Days services were conducted by trained volunteer members of the congregation.
Music was Gruen’s avocation; a machinist and tool-and-die maker, he came to the U.S. in 1934. In New York he met and later married his wife, Ethel; the couple moved to Dallas in 1952. Son Dan, one of the couple’s four children, has in recent years taken over his father’s previous honored post as the congregant who chants Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur.
In its early days, Beth Torah met in a Lutheran church on Lookout Drive, Richardson, then built its own facility, now enlarged, on land next door. Gruen was the congregation’s first Building Committee chair, helping with both land acquisition and building design. For Men’s Club members and many other congregants at the recent meeting, Gruen talked about designing and hand-decorating the ritual essentials that have been synagogue fixtures since Beth Torah first moved into its own building in the early 1980s.
Beth Torah now has three Arks, but Gruen’s original remains on the bima of the main sanctuary, under the Ner Tamid of his design. Over its doors he carved his favorite words from Psalm 145: “G-d Is Near To Those Who Call Upon Him.” His Men’s Club presentation was filmed for the congregation’s archives.
Ron Gruen earned his college degree from City College of New York, did graduate study at Columbia University, and has received an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University in recognition of his many contributions over many years to Jewish education.
Temple Emanu-El Choir      cares for its ‘mishpachah’
Members of the Temple Emanu-El Choir always say they are a family, and this tzedakah story really proves it! It comes to us from Frances (“Frankie”) Schwartzwald of Grand Prairie, a long-time member of the choir’s tenor section.
Frankie writes, “On Sept. 1, Karen Moyer suffered a stroke. She is a vibrant, beautiful women in her 40s who sings (beautifully!) with the sopranos in the TE Choir. You may also have heard her voice on WRR radio, where she works.
“Immediately after learning of this, Mike Medley, a baritone soloist in the choir, set up a website where other choir members could track Karen’s progress and leave messages for her. In addition, he organized four areas to be manned by choir members:
“Rita Newman, soprano, is in charge of “love,” monitoring visits so Karen is not overwhelmed by friends; Colleen Oates, soprano soloist, is “communications officer,” making sure all choir members are advised of Karen’s progress; Kathryn Krause, soprano, takes charge of chores, seeing that all errands are done, laundry taken care of, and other necessities addressed; and tenor Alan Lummus is seeing to legal and financial matters.” Because Karen has few relatives in the Dallas area, the choir truly has become her family at this crucial time.
“Colleen and Mike went to Baylor, Karen’s rehab facility, on a Friday evening to help her welcome the Sabbath, and Colleen returned on Saturday to assist Karen in the farewell to the Sabbath by singing the Havdalah prayers.” Frankie herself visited on Rosh Hashanah along with her daughter Ann, an alto in the choir, and Cantor Richard Cohn and his wife Marsha were among Karen’s visitors in rehab.
All arrangements for volunteers to help Karen at home after she left rehab were completed in time for her discharge from Baylor on Friday, Oct. 10. “Baylor sends a conveyance for her so she can continue therapy there, and she will be doing some therapy at home, too,” according to Frankie.
“Cognitively, Karen is fine. Her vision and right side have been affected but are responding to therapy. And choir members are lining up to bring food to her!”
A fund has been established so choir members and others can make donations to defray Karen’s medical and care costs in lieu of flowers or gifts. Checks should be made out to “Alan Lummus, nominee for Karen Moyer,” and mailed to him at 18935 Westwood Palce, Dallas 75287.
Still time to join
new Girl Scout troop
There is a new Girl Scout troop at the JCC. It was founded by Mahra Fox Pailet, who wanted to start a troop for her daughter. The troop is open to all girls in the 3rd through 5th grades regardless of J membership. Non-Jewish girls are welcome, but the group will focus on primary Jewish values. The troop will operate under Jewish guidelines by not having meetings on Saturdays and no non-kosher snacks will be allowed.
This is the first Jewish affiliated Girl Scout troop in the Dallas area. An information meeting was held on Sept. 21 where parents received information packets. The next meeting will be on Sunday, October 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the JCC, 7900 Northaven Rd. There are currently about 18 girls in the troop, but membership is still open.
For more information, contact Mahra Fox Pailet at 214-363-0429 or email her at mahrafox@hotmail.com.
Michelle Samuels joins
Jaffe Associates’
Jaffe Associates, Inc., a leading public relations agency for law firms, announced that Michelle Samuels has joined Jaffe’s public relations team as an account supervisor. Samuels is based in New York.
Previously, Samuels spent nearly four years at the New York and Chicago offices of Edelman, a global public relations firm, where she specialized in raising the visibility of law firm and professional services companies through strategic media relation’s campaigns. On behalf of her law firm clients, she has conducted successful national and trade media relations outreach campaigns for attorneys in a range of practice areas, including financial services, investment management, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, litigation, intellectual property and products liability law.
“I’m excited to join Jaffe’s talented team of legal PR practitioners,” Samuels said. “Law firms are always seeking new ways to enhance visibility and reach key audiences, and Jaffe is a leader in consistently providing fresh thinking and new service offerings to meet client needs, with traditional and Web 2.0 tools.”
“Michelle’s strong background in media relations and law firm positioning will be a great asset to our team,” said Liz Lindley, director of Jaffe’s public relations group. “She is highly regarded by clients and media alike, and we’re confident she will deliver excellent results for our clients.”
Michelle is the daughter of Stanley and Irene Fogel, members of Chabad of Plano. She attended Akiba Academy from 1984 to 1993, and Yavneh Academy from 1993 to 1995, the first two years of Yavneh’s existence.
She started her career as a writer/editor for Yeshiva University’s communications department in New York, where she utilized her strong writing skills to edit and write news and feature stories for the university’s various newspapers, magazines and newsletters. She also led marketing efforts, special events and community partnership outreach for the Srochi Museum in Atlanta, Ga.
Samuels holds a dual B.A. degree in English communications/journalism and political science from Yeshiva University in New York. She is a member of the Legal Marketing Association in New York.
Jaffe Associates is a leading public relations firm serving the legal industry in North America and Europe, offering media relations, crisis communications, strategic consulting and creative support. Established 30 years ago, Jaffe operates as a fully virtual company with a staff of experienced law firm marketers located nationwide.

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